Rilla of Ingleside (1921) by Lucy Maud Montgomery
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Rilla of Ingleside (1921) is the final book in the Anne of Green Gables series by Lucy Maud Montgomery, but was the sixth of the eight "Anne" novels she wrote. This book draws the focus back onto a single character, Anne and Gilbert's youngest daughter Bertha Marilla "Rilla" Blythe. It has a more serious tone, as it takes place during World War I and the three Blythe boys - Jem, Walter, and Shirley- along with Rilla's sweetheart Ken Ford, and playmates Jerry Meredith and Carl Meredith - end up fighting in Europe.
The book is dedicated: "To the memory of FREDERICA CAMPBELL MACFARLANE who went away from me when the dawn broke on January 25, 1919â€“a true friend, a rare personality, a loyal and courageous soul."
Rilla of Ingleside is the only Canadian novel written from a women's perspective about the First World War by a contemporary.
Set almost a decade after Rainbow Valley, Europe is on the brink of the First World War, and Anne's youngest daughter Rilla is an irrepressible 14-year-old, excited about her first adult party and heedless of the chaos that the Western world is entering. Her parents worry because Rilla seems not to have any serious plans for her life, and is more concerned with having fun. It is revealed Marilla died between 'Rainbow Valley' and this book.
Once the Continent descends into war, her brothers and the Meredith boys promptly enlist. This upsets Anne, Nan, and Faith. With her sisters at college, Rilla is left anxiously alone at home. As the war drags on, Rilla matures, organizing the Junior Red Cross society in her village.
While collecting donations, she comes across a house where a woman has just died in childbirth and her husband is away at war. Rilla takes the sickly little boy back to Ingleside in a soup tureen, naming him "James Kitchener Anderson" after his father and Herbert Kitchener, British Secretary of State for War. Rilla's father Gilbert Blythe challenges her to raise the war orphan, and although she doesn't like babies at all, she rises to the occasion.
Along with the rest of her family, Rilla deals with the spread of the war and the death of millions, as well as her eldest brother Jem's disappearance. Meanwhile, the boy she is in love with, Kenneth Ford, begins to court her, but leaves to fight as soon as an old injury heals, leaving an even more anxious and depressed Rilla to wait at home. Susan and her cousin Sophia have important roles in this book.
At the end of the volume, the Glen St. Mary boys, excluding her dearest poetical brother, come home from the war, full of scars and permanent handicaps. Walter, the dreamiest of the children, dies in war. (This was foreshadowed in the earlier book Anne of Ingleside). His last letter is included in the chapter "And So, Goodnight". Life begins to return to normal.
Mary Vance and Miller Douglas get married, with Miller deciding to follow a career in Mr. Flagg's store after losing a leg in the war. Jem is engaged to his sweetheart Faith Meredith, and goes to Kingsport to finish studying medicine and become a surgeon. Jerry Meredith becomes engaged to Rilla's sister Nan and goes to Kingsport to finish college and pursue his career as a lawyer. Faith and Nan decide to teach at nearby schools while waiting for the boys, along with Rilla's other sister Diana. Carl Meredith and Shirley Blythe also leave for Redmond with Una, who is going to take a Household Science course to begin a career.
Kenneth proposes to Rilla with a romantic "Is it Rilla-my-Rilla?" -- to which Rilla lisps, "Yeth
Lucy Maud Montgomery CBE (November 30, 1874 â€“ April 24, 1942), called "Maud" by family and friends and publicly known as L.M. Montgomery, was a Canadian author best known for a series of novels beginning with Anne of Green Gables, published in 1908. Anne of Green Gables was an immediate success. The central character, Anne, an orphaned girl, made Montgomery famous in her lifetime and gave her an international following. The first novel was followed by a series of sequels with Anne as the central character. Montgomery went on to publish 20 novels as well as 500 short stories and poems. Because many of the novels were set on Prince Edward Island, Canada and the Canadian province became literary landmarks.
Montgomery's work, diaries and letters have been read and studied by scholars and readers worldwide.
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